so this post detailing how parents supposedly interpret psychiatrists regarding their troubled teenagers is going around, and i have some Feelings about it.
because ok, i understand how frustrating it is, especially as a young person, to not have your concerns about your mental health taken seriously (by your parents or anyone else who stands between you and proper treatment, as parents often do when you’re underage). however, i can’t help but wonder - what about the young people who fall on the other side of that?
because i can tell you, as someone who used to be a teenager in the mental health system, sometimes all the diagnoses, all the symptoms that are pathologised and analysed to death, all the erratic behaviour, the sadness and the moodswings, really are just symptoms of being a teenager. especially if you are a teenager who’s picked on in school, a teenager who’s trying to deal with coming out, a teenager who wishes they had some friends they could actually relate to, or countless other things that really suck when you’re a teenager, but are not necessarily symptomatic of or related to an underlying mental illness.
and when those things are seen as symptoms of a diagnosis, and that teenager is referred to psychologists and doctors who don’t even consider the fact that there’s a lot to be said for the simple explanation “being a teenager is hard”, and jump directly to prescribing anti-depressants to a 14-year-old, or decide, along with the kid’s parents, that a “voluntary” stay in a mental hospital is a really good solution to the earth-shattering, totally unprecedented problem that is “14-year-old kid with no friends doesn’t like going to school”… we have a problem.
and yeah, yeah, i’ll spare you my life story beyond copping to the fact that the above are examples from my own adolescence. but i am frequently very frustrated with the way mental health is discussed on tumblr/on the internet, and this kind of thing is only part of the problem.
i am incredibly tired of not being able to talk about my own experiences with mental healthcare/the ~system~ without a) people trying to talk to me about the fucking icarus project and, on the other side, b) people getting defensive and not wanting to hear what i have to say about the fact that maybe i didn’t actually need medication or hospitalisation when i was fourteen and sad because the other kids in school were mean to me and i was figuring out my ~budding queerness~ and it was hard and i was fourteen.
and this isn’t even the worst of what’s happened to me under the guise of psychiatric treatment, nor are my experiences anywhere near as bad as the things i’ve witnessed and the stories i’ve heard from other people, particularly young people, in the system.
but here’s my main point: it took me years to realise that it is actually possible to be sad or unhappy or just plain Not Doing So Well - in the short term or over time - without it being the result of a psychiatric diagnosis or some deep-seated issues or trauma that have to be analysed and medicalised and pathologised. i legitimately did not realise - because no one told me - that it is perfectly fucking normal to be sad when you’re 14 and don’t have any friends, or angry and frustrated and anxious when you’re 16 and on the verge of figuring out that you’re trans. instead i was subjected to extensive tests and visits to more doctors and social workers and specialists than i could name, and while some of that was useful in that it eventually led to the discovery of a learning disability, nothing was done to actually try to help me, because the help i needed wasn’t the help they were interested in giving.
because, as a teenager, i was never listened to when i tried to talk about what was wrong - and moreover, i rarely knew what to say because no one asked the right questions. from the start i was viewed as someone who had Very Serious Problems, and the only person who was never listened to in their endless quest to find the root of these problems was myself. i was expected to never be able to finish high school, i was given several diagnoses, none of which were anywhere near plausible - including a personality disorder which the doctors in question admitted, several years later, they’d more or less just picked at random despite my not fulfilling enough criteria for it, because they had to give me a diagnosis and they couldn’t find one that fit.
so this post is long, and personal, and knowing tumblr i’ll probably be “called out” on my “ableism” or something, but fuck it, man. i’m tired of people acting like there’s no other alternative beyond “just being a brat on purpose” and “has a serious mental illness” when discussing mental health, and young people especially.
reblogging is mine. this is a really important post. re-blogging because there needs to be a way to talk about the essentialist ways in which we collectively think about mental illness & the profitability of pathology & the damage that many of these drugs cause without invalidating what other folks are going through.